This watercolour was painted by Peter Fraser (1888-1950) when he lived with Edith, his second wife at their home ‘Grunnavoe’, Seasalter. The scene appears to depict a wintery Whitstable Bay at low tide. ‘Grunavore’ is a reference to Fraser’s place of birth on the Shetland Isle of Vidlin.
In 1938, the government began to build new warships and increase its armaments. However, this war would not just involve soldiers. The government expected the war to disrupt and threaten the lives of civilians left at home. This happened in a variety of different ways, from cutting down railings to be melted down and used in munitions factories, to rationing and evacuation plans.
Between 1938 and 1939, the government thought of all the possible dangers and difficulties the Home Front would face during war, and started to take precautions. People were needed on the home front to help with all sorts of things. They were encouraged to plant vegetables on any spare land they had to supplement the rationing, but people were also recruited into a variety of essential positions such as Air Raid Wardens and the Home Guard. People were also encouraged to think about their safety, and the government spent a great deal of time educating people on what to do in situations such as an air raid, or a gas attack, as well as providing information on how to make rations stretch further and how to keep yourself healthy.
Fraser was commissioned by the Ministry of Information to design a poster as part of a series created to encourage food production. His design of a gardener striding along with a basketful of produce and a fork casually held over his shoulder became one of the iconic images of the war. The slogan used, “Dig on for Victory” suggests that the poster was a follow up to earlier designs in the “Dig for Victory” campaign.
Fraser was already well known for creating a range characters including ‘a small terrier dog called ‘Tufty’ who appeared ‘Tufty Tales’ during the 1930s.
Peter Fraser died in March 1950. His wife, Edith was approached by Alfred Bestall, the illustrator of the Rupert Bear stories, to author the accompanying rhyming couplets.
Rupert Bear was created Mary Tourtel (born Canterbury in 1874) and first appeared in the Daily Express in 1920. Tourtel produced the Rupert stories until 1935, Bestall took over the creative reins. It was a role he enjoyed for thirty years.